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V9N14 - June 14 - July 18, 2011:


Spotlight feature:
Ken Ploen:
The Quiet Hero

Winnipeg, Manitoba

By Scott Taylor

Ken Ploen

By his own admission, Ken Ploen still thinks it’s strange that a kid from Clinton, Iowa would grow up to win four Grey Cup championships and then have somebody write a book about him.

“Who would have ever thought a kid from Clinton would ever have a book written about his life,” Ploen, 76, said the other day. “I know I didn't.”

He’s being modest. For those Winnipeggers who know Ken Ploen, and that list is extremely long, what would be most surprising is that it actually took this long to write a book about the life of one of Canada’s great athletes.

After all, Ploen was the quarterback of the Blue Bombers when the Blue Bombers were the most dominant team in the Canadian Football League. It was the greatest decade in Bomber history.

When he left football, Ploen became a fixture on Blue Bombers broadcasts, did loads of TV, radio and print advertisements and is still the voice of Abalon Construction on radio today.

Ken Ploen is famous. He’s one of the greatest athletes in the history of our province. He’s in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. TSN’s viewers voted him the greatest CFL player of the 1960s.

And yet the book about his life and times won’t be released until July 1, 2011.

“Oh, I was lucky,” says Ploen with the aw-shucks response of a kid from small-town Iowa. “I came to Winnipeg and played on some of the best teams with the teammates a football player could ever want. Don’t forget, I was just part of a team. And it was a great team.”

Ploen’s story is one of the most dramatic in the annals of all sports. It really would make for a great movie.

In 1957, a young quarterback from Clinton, Iowa who had just led the University of Iowa Hawkeyes to the Rose Bowl championship, decided he had no interest in playing for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and, instead, signed a “huge” contract in Canada, with the Western Interprovincial Football Union’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“For me, Winnipeg was a great opportunity,” Ploen said. “I got drafted in the 19th round of the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns as a defensive back. Milt Plum was the quarterback in Cleveland at the time and they were happy with him. I talked with Cleveland and they didn’t want me as a quarterback, they wanted me as a defensive back. They offered me a $500 signing bonus and a $5,000 contract, which, back then wasn’t bad.

“But up here in Winnipeg and they offered me a $3,000 signing bonus and a $9,000 contract and an opportunity to play quarterback. They also told me that the hunting and fishing was pretty good up here and they also told me you could work on the side.

“So I came up here with a better signing bonus, a better contract, an opportunity to play quarterback and a job with Martin Paper Products as an industrial engineer with my engineering background. Oh yeah, and the Canadian dollar was at a 6.5 per cent premium back then. You kind of roll all those things into one and it was not a very tough decision.”

When he received his signing bonus, young Ken gave the money to his parents.

“My dad was operating the Y Motel in Fulton, Ill., and it needed some work so I gave it to my mom and dad to put into the business,” said Ken. “My dad was a jack of all trades. He quit the Dupont plant because he got tired of working shift work, so he went across the (Mississippi) river to Fulton, Ill., and took over a motel. He ran that motel for quite a few years.”

The head coach in Winnipeg, a fellow named Harry Peter (Bud) Grant, was in his second year at the helm and yet he was only 30 years old. He loved what Ploen’s Iowa coach Forest Evashvski had done with the Hawkeyes and decided he was going to run “Evy’s” Wing-T offence as well. To do it properly, he knew he needed Iowa’s gifted 21-year-old quarterback.

That was a match made in heaven. The quarterback, Ken Ploen, loved to hunt and fish as well as play football and the coach, Bud Grant, would rather hunt and fish than play football. So the former Bomber receiver-turned head coach headed down to Brainerd, Minn., where Ploen and his family were fishing, and convinced the young quarterback to sign in Canada.

For the next 10 years, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers dominated Canadian football. The team went to six Grey Cups and won four of them. And while Ploen wasn’t always the quarterback, he was the Canadian game’s best player. He was an all-star on defence, a kicker, a punter and even a kick returner. As the Bombers became the most feared team in the CFL, Ploen became its greatest all-around player.

“Ken Ploen was a leader,” said his former teammate and still good friend, Henry Janzen. “He wasn’t a leader because he talked or yelled, he was a leader because everyone respected him. When we went into the huddle there wasn’t a sound because everyone on the team was confident that the plays he called would work. He got tremendous respect from his teammates because we all knew he was our leader.”

During his career, Ploen would not take credit for his team’s successes. Even today, Ploen’s personal glory always takes a back seat to the contributions that were made by his teammates.

If you ask Ploen about any situation or any great play, he’ll do one of the following things: 1) credit coach Bud Grant’s strategy; 2) credit the offensive line for its wall of blockers’ 3) call it the result of a great run or a great catch or a great tackle or 4) say that it was a brilliant substitution for an injured player that made the difference.

In truth, it was often all of these things, but without Ploen's cool leadership and his ability to make plays (from just about any position), its unlikely things would have turned out as well as they did.

Consider these examples:

1) He was knocked out of the Bombers’ quarterbacking position after six games in 1958. Trainer Gordie Mackie “trussed up” Ploen’s bad shoulder and he went back out and played halfback, slotback and safety.

2) In the ’58 Grey Cup he faked a pass and ran through three Hamilton defenders to the Tiger-Cats one-yard line to set up the winning touchdown. Then later in the game, while playing defensive back, he picked off Bernie Faloney’s the last gasp pass to preserve the victory and end the game.

3) In 1959 he played safety and halfback all year and not only tied a Canadian football record, but also set a Bomber record for interceptions in a season.

4) When the 1959 Grey Cup rolled around, he was asked to play quarterback again. Jim Van Pelt was injured and after a season as a halfback and safety, Ploen went out and played superbly. He played an entire game of ball control until the very end when he caught the Tiger-Cats off-guard and threw two bombs late in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

5) In the 1961 Grey Cup, he played possibly his finest game at quarterback and won the game with a dazzling touchdown run in overtime.

6) In 1962, he started the Grey Cup, but was injured late in the first half and shared duties with Hal Ledyard, who played the third quarter. Of course, he still played defensive back throughout the game. Ploen started the scoring spree by rolling out on a bootleg and running 41 yards for a touchdown. Then, at the end of the game (Day 2 of the famous Fog Bowl) with the score 28-27 in favor of the Bombers, Ploen was a punt returner who ran out the last punt to safety at his own two-yard line and preserved the victory.

7) As a quarterback, Ken Ploen called all of his own plays for his entire career, He would take suggestions from head coach Bud Grant, but in the end, every offensive play called during the Ken Ploen Era was Ken Ploen’s responsibility. And four Grey Cup victories would suggest he was responsible.

Without Ken Ploen’s remarkable ability to play almost any position and make a legitimate difference in each of the four Grey Cup victories, the Blue Bombers could not possibly have won all of them. The only athlete to match his multi-dimensional play was Edmonton’s Jackie Parker and he won only three Grey Cups.

Ken Ploen was truly a one-of-a-kind football player and his versatility and skill have not been seen since the day of his retirement.

(The Book, “The Quiet Hero: The Ken Ploen Story” written by Roy Rosmus and Scott Taylor and published by Roslor Publishing will be released July 1, 2011, and will be available exclusively at the Bomber Store and through the Winnipeg Football Club).

(Read more in the June 14 - July 11/2011 issue of Senior Scope)

Fraud Prevention:

Anti-Virus Scams

Since February 2011, the RCMP in Manitoba has received a number of complaints involving fraudulent telephone solicitations for anti-virus software. In this scheme, company representatives cold call individuals and tell them that their computer system is running slow or has viruses. An offer is made to repair the computer remotely over the internet by installing certain software and giving the caller access. Payment is made by credit card and prices range from $35 to $469.

Allowing a stranger to download software or remotely access your computer is risky. Malicious software designed to capture your personal information including, web sites visited, sensitive documents, and passwords puts you at risk of financial loss and identity theft.

Common warning signs of this type of scam include:

- Unsolicited calls representing a computer repair company or imitating your local Internet service provider

- The caller states there is an urgent need to address threats to your computer

- You’re directed to download software and provide your username and password for this new download

- You’re asked to provide your credit card number to pay for the service

If you receive a call which resembles the anti-virus scam please advise your local police service and contact the
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
at 888-495-8501 or

Cst. Ben Doiron
Winnipeg RCMP
Commercial Crime Section

(Read more in the June 14 - July 11/2011 issue of Senior Scope)

Green Burials

What is Natural or Green burial?

It is an environmentally friendly method of interring a deceased person in the soil so as to not inhibit decomposition and to ensure the body recycles naturally. It is seen as an alternative to contemporary methods we use today.

Where does the idea come from?

The largest movement was founded in the UK in 1993 in the City of Carlisle and was called simply ‘Woodland Burial’ but if we look back and consider how people were buried in the past using, hand dug graves, softwood caskets and no embalming, and then some say we find the origins of green burial.

Green burial can now be found in the southern US and a new site was opened on Vancouver Island in 2010.

Cremation is not green

Cremation cannot be considered green due to the emissions it produces (Emissions in Europe and especially the UK are highly monitored) and the use of non-renewable energy sources to maintain the furnace at a temperate of 800 - 1000 degrees Celsius. It is anticipated cremation could be phased out in parts of Europe due to the high cost of fuel to facilitate the cremation.

Cremated remains are mostly dry calcium phosphates with some minor minerals, such as salts of sodium and potassium. Sulphur and most carbon are driven off as oxidized gases during the process, although a relatively small amount of carbon as carbonate may remain. The scattering of cremated remains causes damage to soil and plant life and hinders growth leaving mostly moss and lichens to survive.

What makes a Green/Natural burial?

All of the following contribute to making a burial green. A green interment site would offer a mixture or all of the following:

• 100% No embalming of the body

• Use of only bio degradable caskets or shrouds/body wraps such as those made from cardboard, 100% cotton, silk, jute, timber softwood with no metals and glued with natural products or wicker caskets.

• Shallow burial with a 2ft depth of soil covering; currently the Public Health Act requires 3ft. Deep burials have anaerobic conditions through lack of oxygen and especially in clay; this slows the decomposition of the body and has a possibility to create methane. Green burial requires a much faster decomposition of the body.

• On line memorials as standard memorials would not be permitted in the burial area unless they are biodegradable.

• Use of GPS in order to find the site in the future.

• Manual digging of the grave

But just being green in the burial isn’t where we could stop if we want to consider the whole picture we must factor in the visitation trips returning to the cemetery regularly, the flowers and where they are shipped from, the use of multiple vehicles travelling to the funeral, the equipment driven in the cemetery for maintenance etc etc. All of these things contribute to making the interment and funeral less green.

What is on offer here in Winnipeg?

The City Cemeteries By-law permits the use of all forms of body wraps i.e. Hardboard/paper caskets, shroud, wooden boxes or caskets. We offer flat marker lot’s where the client has a choice of not placing a memorial.

What could we expect here in Winnipeg?

Suggestions of a prairie landscape open field area with prairie grasses handed to families/NOK to sprinkle on the interment site or the planting of a tree to create managed woodland.

What is the City going to do?

Before we consider establishing a site the City will need to consult with the public to establish how large of a request there is for green burial. Then we have to be realistic about how green we could operate; in the past before the backhoe was used to dig, interments were postponed until the ground was thawed and able to be dug by hand with the body being stored over the winter. Not really an option today so we have to investigate what other methods we may be able to use.

Will it be cheaper?

Selling price depends on many factors including the cost of establishing a green area and what methods of operation are going to be used.

Some other green alternatives.


Resomation Ltd was formed in Scotland in early 2007 to promote Resomation as a real alternative to burial and cremation. At a time when public awareness of carbon emissions and environmental responsibility is ever on the increase, the opportunity arose to offer people another choice of disposition

Resomation is a process that uses water and alkali rather than high heat to quickly decompose a body.

The body, enclosed in a silk coffin, is placed in a steel chamber along with potassium hydroxide at a pressure of 10 bar. The temperature is set at 180 °C which is 80% cooler than a standard crematorium.

The high pressure and the temperature dissolve the body in two to three hours, leaving just bones to be crushed in a similar fashion to cremation and placed in an urn. As with ecological burial, dental amalgam can be easily separated from the ash.

A traditional casket is still used for the funeral ceremony; the sealed silk coffin which is resomated with the body is placed inside.

Resomation has a much lower carbon footprint than cremation and uses an eighth of the energy.

Resomation is more expensive than cremation, with only a few resomators in operation; while resomation is gaining popularity in Europe and the U.S.

Body Composting (Sweden) or Promession

Promession is an ecologically- conscious method for disposing of human remains by freeze drying. It was invented and patented in 1999 by the Swedish biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak. Promession is different from all other alternative burial methods because it is a gentle and clean process which uses vibration to reduce the body remains.

"Promession" is derived from the Italian word for "promise" (promessa), Promessa's promise being the good environmental management of the Earth.

The body is frozen to minus 18 degrees Celsius and is lowered in its coffin into liquid nitrogen which makes the body very brittle. The body and coffin are then exposed to a light vibration which causes them to disintegrate into organic powder. A vacuum chamber is used to evaporate water from the powder, and mercury and other metals are separated and removed using a magnetic field. The remaining 25-30 kg of powder is then put into a coffin made of corn starch.

There is no hurry with the burial itself as the powder, which is hygienic and odorless, does not decompose when kept dry.

Burial takes place in the upper mulch-forming layers of the soil where microorganisms turn the coffin and its contents into compost in about 6-12 months.

Since the remains do not cause any impact on the environment, it should be possible for gravesites to be located on family property or other places with emotional ties to the deceased and next of kin.

(Read more in the June 14 - July 11/2011 issue of Senior Scope)

Financial Planning:

Have your cake and eat it too
Maximize your pension and care for your loved ones

BRIAN G. KONRAD CFP, Financial Consultant

When it comes to making important decisions, everyone likes to have options.

This is especially true as one nears retirement and the time to choose the pension option that’s most appropriate for you and your family is quickly approaching.

Not only will the decision you face have wide ranging repercussions— as it will determine the income you’ll receive for the rest of your life as well any survivor’s benefit— but it is irrevocable.

Benefit payment options

Pension plans provide a benefit to the retired plan member that continues to the surviving spouse for life (normally as a reduced amount) once the retiree passes away. This is commonly referred to as a “joint life” pension. Most plans, however, offer retirees a number of additional payment options, one of which is a “single life” pension. These do not pay a pension to the surviving spouse. Since single life pensions pay benefits over just one lifetime, the monthly payments to the pensioner are higher than if the pension is guaranteed for two lifetimes. However, because single life pensions provide an income for just one person, they effectively disinherit the pensioner’s spouse in the event of the pensioner’s prior death.

Because most plan members with spouses aren’t willing to accept that risk, the single life pension isn’t really an option. Instead, most individuals opt to build in a risk management component by selecting a joint life pension. That is, they accept a smaller income in exchange for the certainty of knowing their spouse will receive an income in the event of their death. The “premium” they agree to pay for this certainty, therefore, is a reduced monthly pension.

Accepting a smaller income appears to be the only choice for most people approaching retirement. Further, some plans literally prohibit married retirees from choosing a single life pension—they offer them only one choice, the joint life pension.

With careful planning, however, you may be able to opt for the larger benefit that comes with a single life pension while resting assured knowing your spouse will enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in the event of your death. The right life insurance policy, purchased at the appropriate time, can provide the best of both worlds.

How does this “pension maximization” concept work? It’s quite simple. Upon the death of the pensioner, proceeds from their life insurance policy are invested to provide an ongoing income for his or her spouse. It’s the knowledge that cash is certain to be made available to provide income for the surviving spouse that allows a pensioner to choose a single life pension. This income may exceed the survivor’s pension that would have been available to them through a joint life pension.

In addition, there could be some capital remaining upon the death of the surviving spouse to share with loved ones or to form part of their charitable legacy.

Should the pensioner’s spouse die first, the pensioner still retains complete control of the insurance policy. The pensioner may choose to cancel the policy or designate other beneficiaries.

You may not necessarily need to purchase additional life insurance coverage to implement this strategy. The coverage you bought once upon a time to serve another purpose could be used to maximize your pension. If your existing coverage is term insurance, however, it may be necessary to convert it to some form of permanent coverage.

So what is the ideal time to consider pension maximization? One thing’s for certain— if you wait until you’re within a few years of retirement, it’ll probably be too late. The ideal time to implement the strategy is at least 20 years from retirement, as that’s typically when it’s most affordable.

Understanding the costs of certainty

Given the choice between a single life pension and one that provides a survivor’s benefit, most people opt for the latter. As we see in the illustration below, however, choosing the selfless option often forces retirees to accept a smaller monthly income.

The illustration is based on a hypothetical, 45-year-old male, with a 43-year-old spouse, who anticipates retiring at age 65. Should he opt for a single life pension, his pension income is projected to be $3,200. Should he opt for a joint-life pension, he has been told his income will be $2,637.1

Pension Option
Monthly Pension
Single Life pension
$ 3,200
Joint & Survivor pension
$ 2,637
Cost of certainty
$ 563

Through the use of life insurance, the pension maximization strategy can allow you to opt for the significantly higher pension income that comes with a single life pension and provide you with peace of mind knowing your spouse will be taken care of in the event of your death.

The cost effectiveness of the strategy depends on several things, including the cost of the life insurance, the investment return needed to produce the survivor’s pension and the availability of indexed benefits through the company pension plan.

Talk with us today to learn more about your pension plan, the options it’s expected to provide you upon retirement and maximizing your pension.

1 The projected pension figures provided are for illustration purposes only.

Financial Consultant
(204) 489-4640 ext. 246

This report specifically written and published by Investors Group is presented as a general source of information only, and is not intended as a solicitation to buy or sell specific investments, nor is it intended to provide legal advice. Prospective investors should review the annual report, simplified prospectus, and annual information form of any fund carefully before making an investment decision. Clients should discuss their situation with their Consultant for advice based on their specific circumstances. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. Insurance products and services offered through I.G. Insurance Services Inc. (in Quebec, a financial services firm). Insurance license sponsored by The Great-West Life Assurance Company (outside of Quebec). Brokerage services offered through Investors Group Securities Inc.

™Trademark owned by IGM Financial Inc. and licensed to its subsidiary corporations.

“Have your cake and eat it too” ©2007 Investors Group Inc.

(07/2007) MP1101

(Read more in the June 14 - July 11/2011 issue of Senior Scope)


The stray who kept getting named

By Willian J. Thomas
Humour Columnist


So I’m on the book tour with Margaret Trudeau driving in a separate car headed for Jordan, Ontario when I spot this dog.

Still feisty and beautiful as well as a dog lover, Margaret has written a wonderful memoir titled Changing My Mind. Having spent 50 years of her life suffering from a mental illness she did not know she had, the younger half of our Camelot couple, Maggie and Pierre, explains her failures and fesses up to scandals that had us all shaking our heads in disbelief during the heady, hippy days of the 70’s. With photos that transport you to a better and simpler time in Canada, Changing My Mind is a remorseful and brutally honest bipolar romp from sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll to today’s caring grandmother who once again gets to say: “I love you Pierre.”

I introduced Margaret at three Niagara readings and when I used the word ‘tell-all’ to describe her biography; she scolded me when she got to the stage.

“It is not a ‘tell-all.’ I kept some personal things to myself.”

And I thought, good God woman, you have more secrets than what’s in this book!!! It’s like I’ve been living in an ashram in Carnduff, Saskatchewan all my life!

Oh yeah, the dog. She was a big-headed Bernese Mountain dog on the run along a busy two-lane highway near Vineland. I blocked her path to the road with my car and scared her down a dirt road with my horn and then set off after her on foot. Two soakers later and with mud on my knees I finally got a hand on her collar.

Into the front seat she went, almost willingly, this beautiful black and white and orange creature with big brown eyes. She stunk to high heaven of barn and farm; her ribs showed through a thin, dank coat; she had been neglected, maybe abandoned and likely abused.

I took her home. And within an hour by somehow springing the latch of a door even I have trouble opening, Margaret, the dog not the author, was on tour once more.

My buddy John Grant and I drove the surroundings of Sunset Bay in a grid pattern and found neither the dog nor anyone who’d seen her.

The next day I began calling local Humane Societies to see if she’d been picked up but nothing. After three days I was sure I cost her her life because she’d have to cross Highway #3 and other dangerous thoroughfares to get back to where I found her. So I began calling the city works department who pick up dead dogs. On the fourth day after the coldest night in November, Margaret was found at Fay Farms on Barrick Road, maybe four miles from my house.

I visited her at the Port Colborne dog pound – ‘roasted bones for everybody’ – and she was quite depressed.

From there she was transferred to the Welland Humane Society where I walked her every couple of days and by now her name was “Berner.” Understaffed and overworked, the Welland Humane Society not only took exceptional care of this dog, they arranged and paid for the surgery that removed two tumors in her mouth.

After a short stint with Lynn Whitley who owns’ Lynn’s Pet Shop in Welland and has Bernese dogs, “Heather” – by now this dog had more names than the Great Imposter – was sent to the homestead of Nancy Misener and Kevin Rowlings to recover from her surgery and busy schedule.

A lot of this was facilitated by Barb Gowan of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Ontario who fortunately did not rename her.

It was December 23rd by the time Nancy Misener began fostering Margaret Berner Heather in her home feeding her spoonfuls of soup. The dog was thin and woozy with no winter coat, shy and tentative but still with a sweetness that was irresistible. She began eating regular meals and found a warm spot in the kitchen she fancied. That’s where her sleeping bag went. She was not house trained but learned, in short order, about the great fenced-in outdoors.

It was Christmas so – and I hope you’re sitting down for this one – the name “Ivy” seemed appropriate.

As Ivy got healthy and strong and showed more affection, she befriended Nancy’s other two dogs, Django and Jorja. In keeping with my theory but not ever actually having heard of it – “A true pet lover is one sick puppy.” – Nancy and Kevin are no longer Ivy’s foster parents. Ivy is now officially a key component of what they call their “family pack.” She sleeps on the bedroom floor.

By my calculations it only took this handsome and homeless waif 37 days to get from the front seat of my car to the foot of their bed… and into everyone’s heart.

Nancy Misener wrote a report for the Welland Humane Society’s newsletter about the trials and tribulations of Ivy in which I am referred to as “the concerned citizen.” Not something I can put on my resume but I’ll take it.

I’m thinking of writing Ivy’s memoir for her along the lines of Margaret Trudeau’s Changing My Mind. Title? What else but …

Changing My Mind by Margaret Berner Heather Ivy Misener.

P.S. “The concerned citizen” now has visitation rights – Sundays at Silver Bay with what’s her name.

For comments, ideas and
copies of The True Story
of Wainflee
t, go to

(Read more in the June 14 - July 11/2011 issue of Senior Scope)

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Join the Push to Make Manitoba Accessible for All

Accessibility would pretty easy to achieve we all came in the same shape, size and condition. The reality that we all not all healthy 35 year-olds with perfect hearing, sight and mobility, however, seems to have escaped many of those who are responsible for our buildings, houses streets and sidewalks, parks, buses and even public services.

Barrier-Free Manitoba has called on Government of Manitoba to table legislation requiring that government and businesses make changes to better meet the needs of persons of all abilities. With the spring sitting of the Legislature (the last one before the fall election) now underway, Barrier-Free Manitoba , in conjunction with seniors' organizations across the province, is urging the government to act now.

Please join the hundreds of Manitoba seniors who have already joined this important campaign. Just complete the clip out action card below and mail it to the Premier's Office.

You can get more information on the push for legislation at the Barrier-Free Manitoba web site at:

Help change legislation for a Barrier-Free Manitoba.

Click on image for larger form to print, fill out, sign, and mail.

(Read more in the April 19 - May 16/2011 issue of Senior Scope)

Senior Scope - highlighting the programs, services and savings for seniors.

Anyone who is a senior or knows a senior enjoys reading it. And who doesn't have a parent, grandparent, relative or friend who isn't aging? Better yet, who isn't aging? We all are.

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Senior Scope
Publisher: Kelly Goodman
Phone: 204-467-9000
Box 1806 Stonewall
Manitoba, Canada
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